What a fascinating journey these last six months have been! This post will feel really random, really eclectic. Well, that’s okay because that describes me, too. So much has been going on over this last six months, really 19 months. I’m going to touch on the highlights here. In subsequent posts I’ll expound upon some of these points. The bottom line through all this is that God continues to be faithful, in terms of provision, encouragement, and call. In all things, God is good!
CHURCH PLANTING & GEAR SWITCHING
So, over a year and a half ago, my wife Kara and I answered God’s call to move to Champaign, Illinois to take over the leadership of a church plant called Confluence Church. With a clear conscience, I can say that we’ve been faithful to all that God has called us to do in this role – we laid our church’s foundation on the work of Jesus, on God’s Word, on prayer, on relationships, and on mission. Most of the participants in all that we did were not the typical churchgoer. We had a fascinating mix of religious and ethnic backgrounds in our family. Not just on a surface level, we dove deep in our friendships. Real life happened – struggles, victories, and uncertainty – in our midst, and we walked with the people we were called to shepherd. We had a growing men’s group, a women’s Bible study, and any time we had a party of any kind, we’d pack the place. The one thing that wasn’t happening, though, was a growing weekly worship service. Over time it became evident that God was working in us, through us, and in spite of us, but just not in the context of a weekly worship service. Long story short, we ended up closing our doors at the end of January. Just like in losing someone close, shutting down a church plant does involve grief. It was the end of a dream. In a bizarre twist of events did I even land in this pastoral role at Confluence in the first place. It was clear that God wanted us here for a reason. But the question that kept coming to mind was, “Now what?” I resigned myself to working a secular career and ministering through that avenue.
After another Confluence family and my family found a place to call our new church home, a most surprising thing happened. The pastor of our new church called me, asking me, asking me if I would be open to the possibility of working in some capacity at Grace Community Church. So, a month and a half later, I am on their volunteer staff as an associate pastor. Did I foresee this when we first moved to Champaign? Not at all! God had that figured out before we stepped foot here. I’m blown away…